2010 Running time: 109 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Director Ken Loach's provocative tale - written by regular collaborator Paul Laverty - tells the story of a couple of British soldiers-turned-security contractors working in Iraq. When Frankie (John Bishop) is killed, his buddy Fergus (Mark Womack) is determined to find out the truth behind his death with the help of Frankie's partner (Andrea Lowe). The title Route Irish refers to the nickname given to the road linking Baghdad airport with the city.

Director

  • Ken Loach

Cast

  • John Bishop

  • Mark Womack

  • Andrea Lowe

Review

Fresh off the success of Looking for Eric, director Ken Loach returns to the compelling, controversial cinema that has made him one of Britain's most vital filmmakers.

After tackling such thorny issues as the IRA and September 11th, Loach and his regular writer Paul Laverty turn their attention to the shadowy world of private Western security services (aka mercenaries) in Iraq.

Fergus (Womack) returns to his native Liverpool for the funeral of his childhood friend Frankie (Bishop), a fellow private security contractor.

He's been killed on "Route Irish", the deadly and now infamous stretch of road between Baghdad airport and the Green Zone.

Refusing to accept the official account of his best friend's death, Fergus launches his own investigation, fuelled by the discovery of a cell phone on which Frankie had recorded the shooting of an innocent Iraqi family just days before his own death.

As his investigation ramps up - via frequent Skype conversations with former security colleagues in Iraq and his interrogation of security firm officials in the UK - Fergus soon draws the heat of those he is investigating and a once dirty foreign war is transferred to the streets of Liverpool and pursued on home turf.

Gritty, tense, and thought-provoking, Route Irish sees Loach once again demonstrating an under-recognised talent for suspense cinema.

Several home invasions and a harrowing gun-battle on an Iraqi street sees Loach in Paul Greengrass mode, and the director gets blistering performances from TV regular Mark Womack as the driven Fergus and comedian John Bishop, here revealing genuine flair in a role far removed from his breezy telly persona.

Loach's road to the truth behind the mystery is bumpy, but it's a riveting ride.

Rob Daniel

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